Making Students More Effective Learners by Challenging their

Report
Making Students More Effective
Learners by Challenging their
Misconceptions about Learning
Stephen L. Chew
Samford University
[email protected]
New American Colleges & Universities
Westminster College
June 22, 2012
Goals of the Presentation
1) Discuss the level of college readiness of
incoming freshmen
2) Discuss what students need to know about how
people learn and the development of a program
to help students become more effective learners
based on cognitive principles
a) Correct misconceptions about learning
b) Provide a cognitive framework for effective study
3) Discuss what faculty should know about how
people learn and what they can do to help
students learn more effectively
4) Discuss cognitive basis of effective pedagogy
Teacher Beliefs about How People
Learn
• Teaching requires a mental model of how
people learn.
– Most teachers cannot articulate their model of
learning, but they have one.
• Determines which teaching methods are
selected, how they are implemented and
assessed, and how to adjust if there are
problems.
• If the model is accurate, the teacher will be
effective
• If it is flawed or simplistic, the teacher will be
less effective
Student Beliefs about How People
Learn
• Students also base their study behavior
based on their models of how people
(specifically themselves) learn.
• Determines whether or not they go to class, if
and how well complete assignments, how
they study material, and when material is
mastered.
• The better the model, the better the student
learns
• If the model is flawed or simplistic, it will
undermine student learning
A typical incoming college
student…
• Has graduated from high school with an
average GPA of 3.00 (NAEP, 2009)
• Has probably passed a high school exit or
graduation exam
• Has been tested for scholastic
achievement or aptitude many times
• Probably taken an entrance exam and was
admitted to college
% of Students Deemed Ready for
College by ACT (2011)
70%
66%
60%
52%
50%
45%
%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
30%
25%
A typical college freshman is
• Inadequately prepared for college work
• Unaware of the fact because it is contrary
to their successful high school experience
• Likely overconfident in their preparation
and abilities for college-level work
– Few students enter college believing they will
struggle
As a consequence
• Many students will struggle academically in
their first year of college
– Culture of access vs. culture of completion
• Overconfidence may hinder their recognition
and willingness to try to make the necessary
changes
• Even when willing to change, they do not
know what changes to make (or not make)
• Some percentage of these students will not
succeed in college even though they have
the ability to do so
– A larger percentage will perform poorly as they
adjust to college level study
The Primary Goal of Teaching
Either
• To present information that students are solely
responsible for learning
– In which case student adjustment to college level work
is not the teacher’s problem
– The teacher cannot or should not influence learning
Or
• To develop a sophisticated, useful, and generative
level of understanding of various academic topics
on the part of the students
– In which case student adjustment to college level work
is the teacher’s problem
– Teachers share responsibility for student learning
How to help students make a
successful transition to college
• Remediation
• Teach them to adjust through college
transition courses, advising, study skills
centers, and other resources
– Personal and social adjustment; study “tips”,
and time management
• Teach them how to be more effective
learners by correcting misconceptions and
teaching them cognitive principles of
learning
Evolution of a Presentation
• Given many workshops for teachers on
how to teach effectively using cognitive
research on how people learn
• In 2006, I was asked to give a
presentation to Samford’s entire freshman
class on how to study effectively in college
based on cognitive research
• Focus on what students need to know
about how people learn in order to make
them better learners
It’s not that simple
• Student expect to be lectured to about how
hard college is going to be and how hard they
will have to work.
• Student overconfidence
• “I’m a college
professor and you
better study hard
because college is
tough!”
– “Look to your left…”
• “I’m a scary, old guy
who will make you
work hard for no
apparent reason.”
– Such a lecture would
be useless
The Challenges
• Overcome the negative preconceptions
– “I want you to succeed, and I have information
that will help you meet the academic challenge.”
• Overcome student misconceptions about
learning, e.g. mistaken beliefs and “magic
bullets”
• Present cognitive principles and research to
help students become more effective learners
• Make the presentation engaging, accessible,
and memorable
• Do it in 45 minutes
Goals of the Presentation
• Give students a coherent, research-based
framework that would allow them to become
effective learners in any situation
– More than disconnected study tips, e.g. don’t
cram at the last minute; space out learning; serial
position; study in same place you will be tested
• Show them how to apply the framework to
their study
• Make it obvious to students this was useful
information they should care about
– It is worth the investment of time
How to Study Long and Hard and Still
Fail… Or How to Get the Most Out of
Your Studying
I. Beliefs about Learning that Make You
Stupid (common misconceptions)
II. Metacognition and its consequences
III. So how accurate are your beliefs about
how people learn? (A quiz)
IV. A demonstration of Levels of Processing
V. Operationalizing Levels of Processing
VI. Applying Levels to studying, note taking,
and highlighting and reading
Giving the Presentation
(about 5 weeks into Fall Semester)
Beliefs about Learning that
Make You Stupid
• Learning is fast
• Being good at a subject is a matter of
inborn talent rather than hard work,
• Knowledge is composed of isolated
facts
• I’m really good at multi-tasking,
especially during class or studying
Metacognition
• A student’s awareness of his or her level
of understanding of a topic
• Metacognition distinguishes between
stronger and weaker students
• One of the major tasks for a freshman is
developing good metacognition
– In high school, students spent years
developing a metacognitive sense that is
likely inadequate or even counterproductive
for college.
Relationship between Estimated and
Actual Grades: Psyc 101
The irony of poor metacognition
• Students who have the poorest
metacognition have no clue how weak
their understanding of a concept is.
• Part of being incompetent is not
understanding just how incompetent you
are.
• So the students who most need to listen
closely to this talk, are the ones who
don’t believe they need to.
So how accurate are your beliefs
about how people learn?
Which of the following is the MOST
important ingredient for successful learning?
1. The intention and desire to learn
2. Paying close attention to the material as
you study
3. Learning in a way that matches your
personal Learning Style?
4. The time you spend studying
5. What you think about while studying
Read the instructions for the
demonstration to yourselves and do
your best to follow them.
Levels of Processing
• Shallow processing focuses on spelling,
appearance and sound.
– Rote memorization of facts
– Flashcards with isolated facts
• Deep processing focuses on subjective
meaning.
– Relating new information to prior
knowledge or other information
– Making information personally meaningful
Rate each word
• Do you find the
word Pleasant?
Deep processing: You are
relating the words to your
own meaningful experiences.
• Does the word
contain an E or G?
Shallow processing: You are
focusing on spelling.
These are orienting tasks that cause you
to think in deep or shallow ways,
regardless of your intention
Four different conditions
Be forewarned
you will be
asked to
recall all
the words
Front
Left
Shallow Warned
about Recall
Shallow
Not Warned
Right
Deep Warned
about Recall
Deep
Not Warned
Study Conditions
1. If motivation to learn
matters, the front tables
should recall best
3. If both deep processing
and motivation matter, the
front right should recall
best
Front
Left
Shallow Warned
about Recall
Shallow
Not Warned
Right
Deep Warned
about Recall
Deep
Not Warned
2. If deep processing
matters, The two right
sections should recall
best
Intention vs. Level of Processing
Intentional
Incidental
80
69
70
68
67
60
% Recall
50
43
40
39
30
20
10
0
Shallow: E Checking
Deep: Pleasantness
Level of Processing
Control
Which of the following is the MOST
important ingredient for successful learning?
1. The intention and desire to learn
2. Paying close attention to the material as
you study
3. Learning in a way that matches your
personal Learning Style?
4. The time you spend studying
5. What you think about while studying
Implications for Learning
• Intention and motivation to learn are not
important
• Attention and amount of study is necessary,
but not sufficient for learning
• Learning strategy has a huge impact on
learning
– Shallow processing undermines learning,
even when intention and motivation are
high
• Deep level of processing is critical for
learning
– elaborative, distinctive, personal,
appropriate
Implications for Students
• Many students have highly practiced poor
learning strategies
– Studying more won’t help them
– Increase overconfidence without learning
• They need to unlearn highly practiced old
strategies and develop new, more effective ones
• Consider study skills in terms of orienting tasks
and level or processing
• Studying, note taking, reading, writing, listening
These findings are strongly
counterintuitive
• All study is effective, only amount and intensity
matter
– The more I study, the more I learn
• The more motivated I am to learn, the more I will
learn
– Motivation automatically improves study effectiveness
• Not all study is the same; some is useless no matter
how long you do it and some is counterproductive
• Motivation is no guarantee of effective study skills
• Learning is hard work, but not all hard work leads to
learning
Implications for Faculty
• Pedagogy have a significant impact on learning
– It isn’t all the same
• Consider pedagogy in terms of orienting tasks
and level of processing
– Design assignments, problem sets, questions,
examples to induce deep processing
– What does this activity make students think about?
– A badly designed assignment isn’t just useless, it can
undermine learning
Achieving Deep Processing while
Studying
As you study, follow these principles:
• Elaboration: How does this concept relate to
other concepts?
• Distinctiveness: How is this concept
different from other concepts?
• Personal: How can I relate this information to
my personal experience?
• Appropriate to Retrieval and Application:
How am I expected to use or apply this
concept?
• These properties lead to development of
connected understanding
The aftermath
• The presentation was a huge success
– Rated most useful and interesting of freshman
activities
– Faculty liked it as well as students
– I’ve presented it annually, refining it each year
• After two years, I was asked to give a
follow up presentation for “at risk” students
• But just how successful was it?
– 2009 Assessment
Method
The assessment employed a two pronged
approach:
• Study 1 involved three sections of
Foundations, a course intended to help
freshmen adjust to college
– For these sections, I attended their class, gave a
pretest, gave my presentation, gave an
immediate posttest, then gave a follow-up survey
two weeks later.
• Study 2 involved other Foundations sections.
– I asked instructors to give a pretest before the
presentation, the students attended my
presentation, then I gave a follow-up survey
several weeks after the presentation.
Results
• Students rated the presentation highly for interest
and value in helping them study (Figure 1)
• In both studies, the presentation had a significant
impact on student understanding that the key
factor in learning is deep processing (Figures 2 &
3)
– But 43% of students maintained a misconception and
correct understanding lowered slightly over time.
• The presentation seemed particularly effective in
reducing rote memorization as a study strategy
and increasing deep processing. (Figure 4)
– “As I study, my main strategy is to memorize the key facts
and the definitions of key terms.” (F(1, 61)=12.49, p=.001)
– “As I study, I try to think about how I might use this
information either on an exam or in my future experience.”
(F(1, 67)=4.43, p=0.039
Fig. 1: Presentation Assessment (Study 2)
7
6
Mean Rating
5
4
3
2
1
0
Fig. 2: Rated Most Important (Study 1)
100
Before
After
Follow-up
93
87
80
60
%
46
40
20
20
20
10
2
4
0
Desire
0 0
Attention
2
4
Learning
Style
5
2
4
Time
Deep
Processing
Fig 3: Rated Most Important (Study 2)
Before
After
60
57
54
50
40
% 30
24
19
20
15
10
10
6
8
6
1
0
Desire
Attention
Learning
Style
Time
Deep
Processing
Fig. 4: Impact on Study Strategies
Before
After
7
6
5.46
5.06
Mean Rating
5
4
4.57
3.84
3
2
1
0
Memorize
Deep Processing
Study Strategy
Conclusions
• The presentation is interesting and effective
at significantly altering student understanding
of learning and their practice.
• The presentation is particularly effective at
decreasing rote memorization and increasing
deep processing strategies
• A significant portion of students still maintain
misconceptions about learning and the
positive impact may lessen with time.
• To address these issues, I created
videotaped modules of the presentation for
students to review when needed.
Development of Video Series
• Have the same helpful tone as presentation
• Contain the same information as my two
presentations
• Serve as a resource for students and
teachers on how to study effectively
• Be as flexible as possible for different uses,
such as online learning
– Five brief modules
• Be worth the time invested in terms of
information learned
– 6-8 minutes each
Creating the Videos
• I examined the videos on studying that
already exist
– Most are either testimonials or selling products
– A depressing, often boring, mix of some correct
information, misconceptions, and simple tips
• Nathan Troost—Ace Videographer
– Visual sense of what works and what is
interesting
– A psych minor and former student of mine
– A good editor for me
• All five filmed in four hours one summer
morning
Video Series: How to Get the Most
Out of Studying
http://www.samford.edu/how-to-study/
How to Get the Most Out of
Studying
• Video 1: Beliefs That Make You Fail…Or
Succeed
• Video 2: What Students Should
Understand About How People Learn
• Video 3: Cognitive Principles for
Optimizing Learning
• Video 4: Putting the Principles for
Optimizing Learning into Practice
• Video 5: I Blew the Exam, Now What?
Videos posted in August, 2011
• Very well received: In use by many faculty;
posted as a resource by many study and
counseling centers; used in many college
transition courses
• Now being closed captioned
• Faculty love them; Advanced students wish
they had had them as freshmen; but
freshmen reaction is mixed
– It isn’t what they want or expect to hear
– Misconceptions are hard to change
– Just watching them is probably not sufficient
Viewing Pattern
Unique Views by Video
140000
130069
120000
# Views
100000
80000
55730
60000
43507
36670
40000
32968
20000
0
Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video
Video 4
Video 5
What might explain this pattern?
• When we tell students to watch them, we
mean “Watch them all (maybe more than
once), learn from them, work to incorporate
the information into your study habits.”
• What students think:
– “I watched the first one and I figured that was
enough.”
– “Just watching should be enough to improve my
grades.
• Watching videos is passive, and they should be
entertaining
– “I already know or do this stuff.” (When they really
don’t)
What Students Want vs. What the
Videos Offer
• How to make good
grades
• A concrete, foolproof,
(easy) method
• Simple tweaks to what
I’m already doing
• Immediate results
• A guarantee that hard
work will result in a
good grade
• How to learn more
effectively
• A framework for
effective study
• A radical change
requiring much effort
• No magic bullet
• You can work hard and
still fail
Using the videos effectively
• Just assigning them is good, but especially
for weaker students, need to ensure watching
and engagement
• Need to scaffold content
– Huge discrepancy between video content and
student beliefs
– Information dense
– Ideas are counterintuitive and contrary to popular
misconceptions discuss how to apply.
– Need reminding
• It is a resource that will save teacher time,
but will not replace the teacher.
Some suggestions
• Assign one at a time and discuss in class
• Use study questions, assignments, or
formative assessments to ensure deep
processing
• Revisit them after the first exam
• Use as a resource in working with
struggling students
• I’m open to suggestions
So shouldn’t we design
pedagogies that make students
use deep processing all the time?
(What faculty need to know
about learning)
What are the critical factors in
student learning?
• Engagement
• Active learning
• Struggle
– Many faculty believe student struggle leads to
better learning
Cognitive Load Theory
(e.g. van Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005)
• Mental effort is the amount of concentration that
a person has available to devote to tasks
• Mental effort is always a limited resource
• Cognitive Load is the total amount of mental
effort a task requires to complete it
• A person can do multiple tasks at once as long
as the total cognitive load does not exceed
available mental effort
• If cognitive load exceeds available mental effort,
then performance suffers
Student mental effort must meet the
demands of instructional mental load
Cognitive Load
Extraneous Load
(Minimize)
Teachers
design
instruction
Germane Load
(Optimize)
Intrinsic Load
(Manage)
Tasks and concepts
possess difficulty
Students possess
prior knowledge,
learning strategies
and mental effort
Available
Mental
Effort
Name the days of the week out
loud and in order as fast as you
can
About this Activity
• Were you engaged?
• Were you engaged in active problem
solving?
• Were you working hard and struggling?
• What was the 4th day in the list?
Name the Days of the Week as Quickly
as You Can
In Alphabetical Order
• Friday
• Monday
• Saturday
• Sunday
• Thursday
• Tuesday
• Wednesday
Implications of Cognitive Load Theory
• If the cognitive load demanded of students exceeds
their available mental effort, then learning will not
occur
• If the cognitive load demanded of students takes up
most or all of available cognitive effort, then there
will not be enough mental effort available for
learning or schema formation
• Deeper level of processing causes greater cognitive
load
• Teachers must monitor, manage and minimize
cognitive load to allow schema development as well
as design activities to promote schema development
Cognitive Load of Various Tasks
(adapted from Piolat, Olive & Kellogg, 2004)
Planning
Revising
Translating
Composing a text
Task..
Notetaking from a lecture
Playing Chess (experts)
Playing Chess (novices)
Reading a text
Reading sentences
Intentional learning
Incidental learning
Text Copying
0
100
200
300
Cognitive effort (IRT in ms.)
400
About Engagement, Active
Learning, and Struggle
• Engagement, being “active”, and mental
struggle do not always lead to effective
learning
• Neither does deep processing if cognitive
load is too great
• Teachers must balance deep processing
and cognitive load
• Teaching is an interaction of competing
forces
The Complexity of Teaching
• The number of teaching methods is large and diverse
• No teaching method is without limitations and pitfalls
• Teaching is a contextual interaction; Teaching
effectiveness involves the dynamic interaction of multiple
factors:
• the outcomes that are desired by
• the characteristics of the students by
• the characteristics of the instructor by
• the curriculum and content
• No single best way to teach
An Effective Teacher
• Must monitor, manage, and manipulate
multiple, conflicting factors, many of which
are outside the teacher’s control, to
achieve desired learning outcomes
• Must be knowledgeable about multiple
teaching methods, select appropriately
among them to achieve desired goals, and
make adjustments during teaching.
Teaching As a Contextual Outcome
of Multiple Agents (TACOMA) Model
Characteristics of the Teacher
In-the-Moment
Reflection
Pre-event
Reflection
Topic, Content, and
Manipulate
Teaching
Strategies
Student-Teacher Rapport
and Classroom Atmosphere
Monitor,
Learning Goals
Manage,
Manipulate
Learning
Strategies
Monitor
Characteristics
of the Learner
Level of Student
Understanding
Manipulate
Form of
Assessment
Post-event Reflection
Take Home Message
• Described misconceptions that students and faculty
have that undermine their learning
• Described a live and video presentation for making
students more effective learners based on cognitive
research
• Attempted to give you a more sophisticated
understanding of how people learn to improve
teaching effectiveness
– Levels of Processing and orienting tasks
– Cognitive Load
– Must keep them in balance
• Teaching is a complex interaction of factors that the
teacher must manipulate, manage, and monitor
– No single best teaching method
– Requires constant monitoring and adjustments
Final Thought
• Whether F2F or online, learning only
occurs in one place, inside the student’s
head.
• It takes effective pedagogy for that to take
place
• Effective pedagogy depends on cognitive
principles.
Thank You!
Questions?
Stephen L. Chew
[email protected]
Discussion Questions
1. What steps does your college or university
currently take to make students better
learners? What changes could be made to
improve this process?
2. What kinds of misconceptions about learning
do you see in both students and faculty? How
do they undermine learning and how can they
be addressed and corrected?
3. How can faculty use the information presented
about depth of processing and cognitive load to
design pedagogy that makes it easier for
students to learn and retain information?
For Further Reading
• How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for
Smart Teaching. Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges,
Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman (2010).
Jossey-Bass.
• The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors
Misunderstand One Another. Rebecca D. Cox (2011), Harvard
University Press.
• Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage
Cognitive Load. Ruth C. Clark, Frank Nguyen, John Sweller
(2005). Pfeiffer.
• Effective College and University Teaching: Strategies and
Tactics for the New Professoriate. William F. Buskist, Victor A.
Benassi (2011). Sage Publications, Inc
• What the Best College Teachers Do. Ken Bain (2004).
Harvard University Press.

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